28 Dec 2010

West concerned at new guilty verdict for former Russian tycoon

8:03 pm on 28 December 2010

The United States and Germany have voiced serious concerns about a second guilty verdict against the jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man and considered a political threat to PM Vladimir Putin, was convicted at a new Moscow trial of embezzlement.

The White House said it was "deeply concerned" by the verdict, calling it a "selective application" of justice.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the trial was "a step back".

The judge said Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were guilty of stealing from their firm, Yukos, and laundering the proceeds.

Khodorkovsky's lawyers say the verdict was the result of official pressure, and have promised to appeal.

Khodorkovsky, 47, is currently serving an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion from his 2005 trial.

He was due to be released next year, but the new convictions could see him jailed for much longer. Yukos was declared bankrupt in 2007.